(WASHINGTON) -- Sales of new homes fell 0.9 percent in January but the final quarter of last year was better than estimated, a report out from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed Friday. The drop last month brings the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate to 321,000 homes.
“[T]hese are the two highest months we've since April of 2010,” David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, told ABC News on Friday. “So while the month-to-month change is a very small downward movement, the absolute number is very encouraging.”
Crowe admitted, however, the figures are far from what is considered healthy.
“We need to be somewhere in the 800,000-per-year sales rate,” Crowe said. “So we're still barely a third of the way back to where the normal levels are, but at least it's moving in the right direction.”
The key to improving the housing market, Crowe says, will be continued growth in the jobs market.
“That's the most important element,” he said. “Interest rates are low, house prices are affordable; so the key to this is building more confidence in the consumer, and more confidence is usually created by job growth.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio